How to Profit from Unsuccessful Sales Calls
Planning on an economic rebound, companies in the U.S. and Canada are beginning to up their investments in new product and service introductions, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey released in August. Businesses are also investing more in information technology and in marketing and sales promotion – That’s encouraging, especially since it should mean more purchases of the kinds of good and services high-level sales professionals represent.
No one should get overly excited, though. The recovery will take time and even in boom times salespersons always meet more rejection than acceptance.
In times of economic hardship, they meet a lot more rejection than acceptance. It’s like baseball, where even Hall of Famers make three times as many strikeouts, flyouts and groundouts as hits.
Win When You Lose – But somewhere along the way in my sales career, I discovered a way to win even when I lose. And this method has enabled me to do better than I ever expected precisely because I learned to turn rejection to my own benefit.
Here’s the idea. Never forget that most of your prospects won’t buy your product or service. You can even let them know you understand this. Then get them to let you make your presentations anyway, but do so with a secret goal in mind one they will never know you have.
This secret goal is to turn every presentation especially those that have a good chance of ending in disappointment into a learning experience. That way, you will never go away empty-handed. You might not earn a commission, but your chances of earning lots more commissions down the road will begin to increase.
Valuable Lessons – With this attitude, you will begin to view even the most resistant prospect as an ally, as a friend, and as someone who might teach you something very valuable. You’ll learn lessons that you will be able to include in your selling system for the rest of your professional life.
For this approach to work, you will always need to anticipate a prospect’s reasons for rejecting your offer, some of which may be totally legit. They might tell you they are already working with someone else, for example, or that they are happy with the way this need is being filled.
In that case, ask them if they would be willing to put those considerations on hold for a couple of minutes to hear what you have to say. That way, you won’t have to waste time, as many salespeople do, trying to overcome their resistance before you schedule the meeting, and you get to make your pitch anyway. You’ve also let them know that the old brush-off won’t work with you.
And if they still won’t buy what you’re selling, try to figure out what you might have done differently to improve your chances. You can even ask them to help you understand that.
This determination to add some new piece of knowledge about my sales presentation from every call I make isn’t something I was born with. I learned that I needed to do it, early in my career, after a failed sales call of my own. It became part of my selling system. Now I give it to you.
Remember, too, that the lesson you will learn from each sales call needn’t be some deep philosophical truth about life. It can be something very simple.
But no matter how small, once you learn that lesson, your chances of making a sale next time have increased.
You’ll find that the lessons learned from what I once thought of as unsuccessful calls compound over time.
They have for me, and they can for you, too.